Kenyan bishops celebrate mercy by donating food, clothing to thousands

A woman cooks outside her destroyed residence after hundreds of homes were demolished in 2015 during forced evictions in Nairobi, Kenya. (CNS/Daniel Irungu, EPA)

NGONG, Kenya — A prominent Kenyan bishop said Lent is a time to celebrate and experience God's mercy, then donated clothing and food to more than 4,000 households on behalf of the bishops' conference.

Bishop Cornelius Arap Korir of Eldoret, preaching in Ngong, called on Kenyans to forget their past experiences and to forgive and love one another as the country moves toward the general election in 2017. The bishop is chairman of the national Catholic justice and peace commission.

Launching the bishops' national Lenten campaign Feb. 7, Korir said Kenyans "need to shun corruption, negative ethnicity and radicalization that tears the country apart and embrace oneness, tolerance of one another and creation of job opportunities for the youth."

He added that "in the season of Lent, the Catholic Church calls her faithful to be in fellowship and solidarity with their brothers and sisters who are less fortunate and support the church through prayers, self-denial and almsgiving."

Before the service in the city's cathedral, local and regional church leaders joined government officials in a walk through Ngong. Later, the food and clothing were donated to households in Ngong's Mathare slum.

The bishops' Lenten campaign asks Kenyans to pray and reflect on responsible citizenry, care for the environment, family values, insecurity and corruption.

In the preface to the bishops' Lenten guide, Korir said, "Kenya is a blessed country, but when we do not take responsibility of our affairs and when we remove God from our dealings, we lose a lot."

The bishop said Kenya had security challenges, "such as radicalization of the youth, abuse of drugs and alcohol among the youth, cattle rustling, rape, mob justice and general lawlessness. We may not have many ways of coping with insecurity, but if we cooperate with government, we shall reduce insecurity."

In Transparency International's annual corruption index, Kenya is now 145th out of 174 nations, down from 136th in 2013. This has been corroborated by a global business risk consultancy firm called Control Risks, whose report titled "RiskMap 2016" has predicted that Kenya's business climate will continue to suffer because of terrorist attacks, corruption, a shaky judiciary and upcoming general elections.

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